The Zhenzheng lun by Xuanyi: A Buddhist Apologetic Scripture of Tang China

The Zhenzheng lun 甄正論 (T 2112, Treatise of Revealing the Correct) is a Chinese Buddhist apologetic treatise with a distinct anti-Daoist stance in three juan. It is organized as a dialogue between a Daoist, the “Venerable Obstructed by Customs” (zhisu gongzi 滯俗 公子), and the Buddhist “Master Revealing the Correct” (zhenzheng xiansheng 甄正先生) in which the former is gradually led towards an orthodox Buddhist understanding by the latter through the refutation of his various arguments against Buddhism: Among the points of contention were the claim, put forth in particular by Lingbao 靈寶 -Daoists, of Daoism being the more ancient religion, the professed higher efficacy of Daoist rituals, and the theory of huahu 化胡 (teaching the barbarians), which was based on the legend that Laozi went to India after he had left China to spread Daoism in the guise of the Buddha. Composed in the late 7th century, the text was authored depending on the political interests and strategies of Wu Zhao 武曌 (624–705), who in 690 was enthroned as Empress Wu Zetian 武則天.

The study of Thomas Jülch offers a richly annotated and complete translation of the Zhenzheng lun along with an introductory part that focuses on reconstructing the political and historical circumstances relevant to the understanding of this important apologetic treatise.

"Thomas Jülch’s translation and study of the Zhenzheng lun (“Treatise on Revealing the Correct”), a 7th-century polemic arguing in support of Buddhism against Daoism, is a welcome addition in light of the dearth of Western language translations of classic Chinese texts. [...] We should be grateful to the translator for providing an accessible annotated translation, and I look forward to further good work by the translator in the future."

Paul L. Swanson in Reading Religion 2020


Foreword (Helwig Schmidt-Glintzer)
     I. Buddhism and Political Ideology under Wu Zetian
     II. Aspects of Daoist Thought Refuted in the Zhenzheng lun
     III. The Zhenzheng lun and Its Place in Chinese Buddhist Apologetic Thought
     IV. Falin, Xuanyi, and the Zhenzheng lun: A Contextualization
     V. A Comparative Perspective
Preliminary Remarks
     Dialogue Sequences 1–30


Monumenta Serica
Monograph Series LXX

ISBN 978-0-367-18285-4 (hbk)
ISBN 978-0-429-06051-9 (eBook)
ISSN 0179-261X